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ReOrient: Middle East on the Bay

theater Bay Area Middle East Syria

Our last post, a chat with journalist Jamal Dajani, questioned the line between news and entertainment when it comes to reporting on the Middle East. This week we offer an alternative to news and fully embrace entertainment, namely theater, as a means to see the region beyond the headlines.

ReOrient 2015, a festival of plays and a discussion forum, comes our way every two years. It opens September 10, bringing two slates of plays to San Francisco.  Golden Thread Productions will stage eight short plays, plays written and performed by artists from Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S.

Filming the designers, actors and directors during their first reading brought the scope of ReOrient home for me.  Participants came with a range of prior knowledge about the Middle East and a unified enthusiasm for learning and creating art.

Between September 10 and October 4, ReOrient rolls out plays, talkbacks, panels, roundtable conversations, a family show, and an Arabic folk music recital.  Chosen from submissions from across the globe, the eight plays were selected by a committee of artists from around the country. This year’s festival will employ and feature more than 75 artists and participants.

Golden Thread Productions’ Evren Odcikin, himself a director, asks, “Is all you know about the Middle East from mainstream media? Join us and experience a more complex and layered Middle East, with stories, conversations, and art from the people who live its reality.” (Read more about Odcikin in an earlier post).

The ReOrient Forum:

The Forum aims to spark conversations by artists, scholars, and activists from around the world. This year’s Forum features UC Davis Professor Sunaina Maira as Keynote Speakers and presents panels on ideas of home and language for Palestinian artists around the world (organized by Theatre Without Borders), the intersection of sexual identity with Middle Eastern performance (organized by Shape – Shift Arts & Saboteur Productions), a multi-generational perspective of Iranian – American theater (organized by Diaspora Arts Connection), and a panel on the future of Bay Area’s culturally –specific theater companies (organized by Theatre Bay Area), among others.


For kids and families: In addition to the plays, the festivities include a performance by the Fairytale Players, including Princess Tamar Rescues Nazar the Brave and 21 Days That Change the Year, two family-friendly productions inspired by Iranian and Armenian fairy tales. When and Where: Sunday October 4 at 2:00 pm. At Z Space 450 Florida Street, San Francisco.

Music, music: Arabic Folk Songs recital with Saousan Jarjour. Saturday, October 3 at 2:00 pm At Z Space 450 Florida Street, San Francisco

Festival of Plays – Where and When

When: Sept. 10 – Oct. 4, 2015
Series A: Thu & Sat at 8pm; Series B: Fri at 8pm & Sun at 3pm
Opening nights: Saturday, September 19, at 8pm (Series A); Sunday, September 20, at 3pm (Series B)
Where: Z Space 450 Florida Street, San Francisco

ReOrient Forum: Sat, Oct 3 & Sun, Oct 4
Panels and presentations will take place 9am–6pm each day

For tickets head to the festival main page.


Golden Thread Productions, founded in 1996, is the first American theatre company focused on the Middle East.

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